We were looking for a place for a quiet celebration (having just selected a designer for our engagement rings), and were lucky to find Alchemy in Gloucester. The décor is warm and comfortable and a little offbeat -- like a series of great library rooms. The menu is inviting -- combinations clearly designed by someone who is not afraid to mix distinct flavors. The first "!Wows!": Brussel sprouts with maple syrup and cayenne; crispy tofu with fresh hot pepper rings and pineapple and a peanut sauce; a "mofongo" that was just wonderful (mostly because it wasn't much like mofongo)! We never got past the starters menu -- too much to enjoy. Well, not quite true. I don't eat many deserts, but do not regret sharing the maple bread pudding. Our server, Erica O, said the recipe was the chef's grandmother's.
One aspect made this a less than perfect evening: a lack of mindfulness about sound. When we entered, the room we were seated in was not empty, but it was quiet -- the intimate experience we were seeking. Shortly after we ordered two locals were seated two tables away. I was appalled when one of them had a prolonged cell phone conversation with her contractor. Later one of the staff people (not their server) stopped by their table frequently to chat with them at length about their food, their business plans, whatever. Today I called and had a great conversation with the manager, Stephanie, about the audio atmosphere of our meal. She said she'll be attentive in the future and I appreciate her response to my concern.
I know we will return to Alchemy frequently. The food was amazing, our server Erica O was knowledgeable, warm and attentive. For our next visit I will make a reservation and consult with the staff on appropriate seating. If Alchemy was an hour away we'd find a reason to return, but they're seven minutes from home. We've already signed up for a loyalty card.
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